Completed in May 1943, Zero No 61-120 was the 2,357th aircraft of its type to come off the Nakajima production line and was first assigned to the Japanese Naval Air Corps on the home island of Honshu. In a few months, it moved to Iwo Jima, then in March 1944, was reassigned to Asilito Airfield on Saipan.
On June 18, 1944, U.S. Marines captured Asilito Airfield with a number of intact Zero fighters. A dozen of these intact Zeros were shipped to NAS North Island, San Diego, California, USA for evaluation. Four Zeros were restored to flight, two went to the Army Air Force and two were retained by the Navy.
The Museum’s A6M5 Zero was license-built by the Nakajima Aircraft Company in Oizumi, Gunma, Japan in May 1943. It entered service in July 1943 with the 261st Kokutai (Air Group), where it most likely flew patrols over Nagasaki on the Japanese island of Kyushu. In October 1943, it was sent to Iwo Jima. In March 1944, it transferred to Saipan. In June 1944, it was captured when the Asilito airfield (as shown in this black and white photo) was taken by U.S. Marines. The aircraft was shipped to the United States where the U.S. Navy tested it. The Museum’s Zero No. 61-120 was ferried to NAS Patuxent River, Maryland on August 23, 1944 and subsequently flown by about 25 different USN, USMC, Royal Navy and civilian fighter and test pilots, including Charles A. Lindbergh (as evidenced in the image below of a portion of the aircraft's flight log). The aircraft was ferried back to San Diego on January 11, 1945, where frontline combat pilots were also given a chance to check out the Zero. Altogether, Zero No. 61-120 logged over 190hr of flight time in the USA before being declared surplus after the war. In 1950, it was acquired by the Museum. It was restored to flight in 1978 and again in 2016. It has made several goodwill trips back to Japan. Still powered by its original Nakajima Sakae engine, it is currently the only authentic A6M flying. Movie and TV appearances include the film Pearl Harbor.
Model: A6M5 Type 0 Model 52 Reisen
Registration Number: N46770
Serial Number: 5357 - (Tail Number: 61-120)
Max T/O Weight: 6,047 lb.
Span: 36 ft. 1 in.
Length: 29 ft. 11 in.
Height: 9 ft. 8 in.
Maximum Speed: 346 mph
Cruise Speed: 230 mph
Rate of Climb: 3,090 ft/min
Power Plant: 1 x Nakajima Sakae 31, 14-cylinder 1,130-hp air-cooled radial engine